Antonio went on an internship with AIESEC: read his story.
Antonio Demontis is a 24 year-old university student, graduated in International Relations at the University of Bologna. He is studying a Masters in International Economics, Finance and Integration at the University of Pavia and he is also a member of AIESEC , the world’s largest student driven organization. He went on an AIESEC internship to Cairo.
-What kind of internship did you choose and why?
I choose a marketing and public relations internship in a NGO because I believe that helping not for profit and not governmental organizations in their communication and marketing campaigns for fundraising can really create an impact and direct the resources of the organization in a better way. These organizations, in particular the local ones, have very little structure and just rely on their employees and volunteers effort, but there is not much entrepreneurial attitude and it’s difficult for them to find individuals with the adequate skills for a better marketing management. With my previous experience gained with AIESEC as an active member I wanted to put what I learnt at the service of the NGO I chose, in order also to improve my competencies in an environment that was alien to me.
- Which country and which city did you go to?
I went to Cairo, Egypt.
- How long did your internship last?
It lasted seven weeks from the end of July to the 1st of September.
- Some things you learnt during the internship?
- "Exchange is not tourism”. I was there for an internship, and an internship is also a cultural exchange. I went to Egypt and I lived according to Egyptian life style. I took the metro like a local, I ate food, walked on the street, bargained taxis like a local. I also travelled around , but I was not looking for monuments. I was looking for a different perspective and approach to life.
- “If you are not prepared for a strong experience, you can ruin it by yourself”. When you go to a country like Egypt and you are not flexible enough to radically change your routine, to face a different society and culture, than you really risk that the first difficulty will put you down. Everybody faces culture shocks in foreign countries, the big difference between a good and a bad experience is whether you are willing to understand what happens around you or just reject it without even trying to face the problem.
- “You take life easier when life is harder”. Everyday life in Egypt is complicated. But it’s when you have problems that you stop complaining about everything. The train is late? Who cares! It’s better because I was also late! Traffic is blocking everything? I have time to pray in peace or talk with people in my car. You learn how not to be overwhelmed by every day’s little problems even when you face them one after the other! You will be able to see more possible solutions in every day life’s difficulties.
- “We are all human”. I lived with people from more than twenty different nationalities. I shared my life with them . People are all different, unique somehow. Never believe to those who tell you how the others are. The only way to know this is to discover it by yourself. I think this is the most important lesson I learnt there, and it was incredible to discover that I have more in common with people from the other side of the world, from totally different roots, rather than with my neighbor or university colleague.
- Why did you choose to go to that country in particular?
When I was a kid I always dreamt to go there one day. I am an archeology passionate and ancient Egypt was my favorite civilization at primary school. Last winter I met four friends that live in Cairo. I was amazed by their kindness and fascinated by their habits, so I started desiring to go there. Then I was looking for a particular type of internship and I knew that AIESEC in Egypt was the organization that could give me what I was looking for. There was no other choice than Egypt! I didn’t even consider other destinations!
-What was the best moment of your experience?
The best moment was the day of my birthday. At midnight my friends made me a surprise party with a birthday cake at the apartment where we all stayed. The morning after at the Giza pyramids we were eating pizza together with other two hundred interns. Best birthday ever! Celebration continued at night when we went on the felucca, the typical Egyptian river boat. On the felucca you can dance, watch the panorama, talk with your friends or just enjoy the fresh air of the River Nile at night!
- Would you change your experience in any way?
No, there is nothing I would change!
-Any suggestions for students who are about to leave on an AIESEC internship?
-Be yourself, challenge yourself, discover yourself. There will be no other similar occasion. Give all your best and don’t give up at the first difficulty. Most of the times the obstacles are just things we don’t understand because we are used to see the world with a given perspective. Be flexible, open-minded and bold. Don’t take anything for granted, give yourself the chance to be surprised!